About Time (12A)
* * * *
IF you discovered the ability to time travel and make changes within the existing span of your own life, what would you do with it?
For 21-year-old Tim (Gleeson), the answer is simple: he’d like to get a girlfriend.
While the time travel premise of the film may lie well outwith those informing previous blockbuster hits by the man who created Love Actually, Notting Hill and Four Weddings And A Funeral, fear not: you could spot this as a Richard Curtis film from a mile away. And that, frankly, is A Good Thing.
The other very good news is that it’s nothing like the enormously disappointing Time Traveller’s Wife – aside, that is, from the fact that McAdams stars in both. The studio’s own tagline is Ronseal perfect: “A new funny film about love. With a bit of time travel.”
With the action flitting between a picture postcard Cornwall and a lovingly shot London, it’s another very British film from Curtis. Gleeson gets the role Hugh Grant might have been handed two decades ago and makes a fine fist of the bumbling Englishman the latter appeared to have made his own.
We quickly discover he’s not the smoothest of operators where the ladies are concerned ahead of his departure from the family home to London to try and make his way as a trainee lawyer. His time travelling capabilities are revealed by his Dad (a brilliant and understated performance from Bill Nighy) shortly after his 21st birthday.
Great this power may be, but they immediately threaten to botch a genuine blind date meeting with the would-be love of his life Mary (played with a down-to-earth, doe-eyed charm by McAdams).
Curtis ticks the character boxes which have served him well down the decades, from the affable bumbler to the kooky younger sister with issues.
Tom Hollander is handed a great counterbalancing role as a grouchy, acidic playwright (Harry) with whom Tim lodges in London. His cutting comments help the film stay on the right side of twee while feeling as familiar and cosy as a favourite pair of slippers.
The story’s as much about the relationship between Tim and his dad as with the love interest and that is developed nicely, the male leads displaying obvious screen chemistry.
If the time travelling element ever becomes a tad tiresome, it never strays into Groundhog Day territory and is used on several occasions to great effect – such as highlighting three very different best man speeches during a wedding scene
There’s much to like about About Time which, at two hours, is perhaps a just wee bit long. You’re left with that warm, fuzzy feeling Curtis has always managed to wring out of his audience from Four Weddings onwards (and that, mark you, was almost 20 years ago).
There’s a cracking soundtrack too, as it happens, from Mike Scott to Nick Cave via Jimmy Fontana.
QUICK REVIEW: Richard Curtis does his thing. Hurrah!
About Time is being screened at Eden Court (till September 19) and is also now showing at Vue Cinema, Inverness; Thurso Cinema; and Spey Valley Cinema at Macdonald Aviemore Resort.